Louis van Gaal has complained of inheriting an imbalanced squad from David Moyes, one comprising more number tens than central midfielders, surplus of wingers yet no experienced defenders. The summer departures of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra saw United lose 1,096 games of top level experience, something that was always going to be tough to replace. But what was transpired has rewritten the worst scenarios – United have leaked 12 goals in 6 games so far this season, and Louis van Gaal has 5 points in 5 matches in the league and a League Cup exit to show for all his big money acquisitions.
While the summer arrivals of Angel Di Maria and Falcao may have added an irresistibly silky look to United’s attack, yielding an immediate effect in the form of 7 goals in two matches, the backline has never looked more vulnerable. Conceding 5 goals against Leicester, with all due respect to the club, is bad enough by any team’s standards – it is the stuff of nightmares for a club of the stature of Manchester United.
The lack of fitness is appalling – we’re talking about top flight, experienced centre halves struggling to play 3 games at a stretch without picking up a knock. Phil Jones is perennially injured and Jonny Evans is as soft as they get and the sending off of Tyler Blackett towards the end of the Leicester game means United have just two options in central defence – the returning Chris Smalling and the suspect Marcos Rojo. With all due respect, Rojo is too careless to play at centre back, while Chris Smalling is not Manchester United standard.
United’s defensive fragility could well cost them a place in the Champions League next season, the damage could well be complete even before the January transfer window afford van Gaal a chance to bring in a fresh face. The decision not to sign a centre back was an enormous oversight, an inexcusable and potentially costly one. There are very few top class defenders around who would prefer a move in January, and United may well have to break the bank once again. Here are 3 names who could solve United’s defensive problems.
1. Mats Hummels
The German World Cup winner preferred to stay at Dortmund this season after being named the captain, but the prospect of joining the likes of Di Maria, Herrera and Falcao in a new look Manchester United could be a mouth watering one. Hummels is one of the top centre backs in the world and his ball playing ability could make him a vital cog in Louis van Gaal’s system at Old Trafford. But the most significant aspect of Hummels’s potential move is that his leadership abilities will make him the instant leader of the pack in a United defence which fails to assume responsibility. Money and United’s inability to offer Europe could well be a hindrance, besides Dortmund will not want to sell another marquee name after the departure of Robert Lewandowski in the summer.
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